JoAnne Wagner, a career Foreign Service Officer now serving as the State Department's Deputy Director for Pakistan, published an article titled "Going Out": Is China's Skillful Use of Soft Power in Sub-Saharan Africa a Threat to U.S. Interests? It appeared in the 1st quarter 2012 edition of Joint Forces Quarterly.
She concludes, on balance, that the genuine possibility for jointly increasing African stability, while pursuing a more muscular enagement with China (and thus laying further groundwork for addressing more intractable problems such as climate change), argues for overcoming probable Chinese, African, and domestic reluctance and attempting a partnership.
Additionally, the reasons for pursuing cooperation are deeply pragmatic. While some may fear that a partnership-focused adaptation to Chinese facts-on-the-ground may make the United States appear weak, realistically speaking, China will--in fact, must--continue to pursue what are genuine domestic imperatives through its African ventures. Better, then, to try to help steer the Sino train than to attempt to derail it.
I have made essentially the same argument on this blog. See the writings in the right-hand column under China-Africa.